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MRA Expands Eligibility Criteria of Social Equity Program in Michigan

In May 2020, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) expanded the eligibility criteria of Michigan’s social equity program. When it did, the number of disproportionately impacted communities increased from 41 to 184. This article is going to cover everything from the definition of the social equity program in Michigan, fees, communities included in the program, and how to apply.

Interested in determining if you qualify for the social equity program in Michigan? Ready to move forward with your application? Request a consultation now.

MRA Expands Eligibility Criteria of Social Equity Program in Michigan

What is the Social Equity Program?

Section 8 of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (MRTMA) requires the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) to develop a plan to promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. This is in effort to positively impact those communities.

Based on last year’s survey results and social equity workgroups, the MRA developed a Social Equity Program that identified communities as eligible using two criteria:

  • Marijuana convictions, and
  • Poverty rates.

Initially, communities which had marijuana-related convictions greater than the state median and had 30% or more of the population living below the federal poverty level were identified as disproportionately impacted communities. In addition to these communities, communities with 20% or more of the population living below the federal poverty level now qualify.

This expansion results in a current total of 184 disproportionately impacted communities.

Fee Reduction and Other Changes

Applicants are longer required to live in a disproportionately impacted community to be eligible for a marijuana-related conviction fee reduction or a caregiver fee reduction. In addition, a 40% fee reduction has been added for applicants who have been convicted of a marijuana-related felony.

Additionally, applicants/licensees who qualify for the maximum fee reduction will now receive a 75% reduction in their application and annual licensing fees. An applicant can meet any of the above criteria and be eligible for the associated fee reduction, regardless of where they reside in Michigan.

Currently, fee reductions last indefinitely so long as the applicant/licensee remains eligible for the fee reductions and operates within a disproportionately impacted community. Applicants/licenses may now operate outside of a disproportionately impacted community; if they choose to do so, the fee reductions will expire after the first two (2) years of operation.

Interested in determining if you qualify for the social equity program in Michigan? Ready to move forward with your application? Request a consultation now.

What Communities Are Included in Michigan’s Social Equity Program?

Below is a list of communities currently included in Michigan’s social equity program:

Allegan: Fennville, Lee Township

Arenac: Alger, Sterling

Barry: Nashville

Bay: Bay City, Midland, Pinconning

Berrien: Benton Harbor, Berrien Spring, Coloma, Eau Claire, Niles, Oronoko Township, Sodus Township, Watervliet

Branch: Bronson, Butler Township, Coldwater, Gilead Township, Quincy, Sherwood, Sherwood Township, Union City

Calhoun: Albion, Battle Creek, Springfield, Tekonsha, Tekonsha Township, Union City

Cass: Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg, Lagrange Township, Marcellus, Vandalia

Eaton: Charlotte, Vermontville

Emmet: McKinley Township, Wawatam Township

Genesee: Clio, Flint, Flint Township, Mt. Morris, Mt. Morris Township

Gratiot: Alma, Bethany Township, Breckenridge, Fulton Township, Perrinton, Seville Township, Wheeler Township

Hillsdale: Montgomery

Ingham: East Lansing, Lansing

Ionia: Ionia, Muir, Orleans Township, Ronald Township

Isabella: Coldwater Township, Fremont Township, Mt. Pleasant, Shepherd

Jackson: Hanover, Jackson, Springport

Kalamazoo: Galesburg, Kalamazoo

Kent: Cedar Springs, Grand Rapids

Lapeer: Clifford, Columbiaville, Imlay City, Lapeer

Lenawee: Adrian, Morenci

Macomb: Center Line, Mt. Clemens

Mecosta: Aetna Township, Barryton, Big Rapids, Deerfield Township, Fork Township, Mecosta, Millbrook Township, Morley, Sheridan Township, Stanwood, Wheatland Township

Monroe: Luna Pier

Montcalm: Carson City, Crystal Township, Edmore, Greenville, Home Township, Howard City, Lakeview, McBride, Pierson, Stanton

Muskegon: Holton Township, Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, Twin Lake

Newaygo: Beaver Township, Big Prairie Township, Bridgeton Township, Denver Township, Fremont, Grant, Hesperia, Lilley Township, Merrill Township, Newaygo, Troy Township, White Cloud, Wilcox Township

Oakland: Hazel Park, Pontiac, Royal Oak Township

Ogemaw: Horton Township, Prescott, Richland Township, Rose City, West Branch

Ottawa: Allendale Township

Roscommon: Higgins Township, Richfield Township, Roscommon, Roscommon Township, St. Helen

Saginaw: Bridgeport Township, Carrollton Township, Chapin Township, Chesaning, Kochville Township, Marion Township, Saginaw, Spaulding Township

Shiawassee: Owosso

St. Clair: Port Huron

St. Joseph: Sturgis, Sturgis Township, Three Rivers, White Pigeon Township

Tuscola: Akron, Caro, Dayton Township, Gagetown, Gilford Township, Kingston, Koylton Township, Mayville, Vassar, Vassar Township

Van Buren: Arlington Township, Bangor Township, Bloomingdale, Breedsville, Columbia Township, Covert Township, Decatur, Decatur Township, Hartford, Keeler Township, Lawrence, Mattawan, Paw Paw, South Haven

Washtenaw: Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti

Wayne: Dearborn, Detroit, Ecorse, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Inkster, Melvindale, River Rouge, Wayne

Wexford: Antioch Township, Cadillac, Colfax Township, Mesick, Slagle Township

How Can I Apply for the Social Equity Program?

According to the MRA, their social equity representatives will continue to assist individuals with completing the social equity application. This will allow the MRA to determine if the individual qualifies for participation in the program.

At this time, the social equity team will be providing remote application assistance to qualifying applicants applying for adult-use licenses. This will be available on a one-on-one basis, as plans are made for a safe return to in-person sessions.

The Takeaway

Expanding eligibility to more individuals, based on the framework that has been set up, is a great step forward. However, the issue is with supply/availability and cost. Since fewer municipalities have opted in to the MRTMA, fewer properties are available for social equity applicants to choose from.

While reduced fees and state application assistance is vital for social equity applicant success, the problem of finding a location and then obtaining local approval still very much exists.

Interested in determining if you qualify for the social equity program in Michigan? Ready to move forward with your application? Request a consultation now.

Barton Morris
Barton Morris has been providing high-quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years.
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